Salesmanship

 

Sales Force Automation:
Working Smarter, Not Harder

By: Bob Zagami

About the author:

zagami.gif (3891 bytes) Bob Zagami is the National Sales Director, Engineering In-formation Solu-tions for Image-Max; a single-source, national provider of document management solutions. He studies the RV industry as a hobby and has owned trailers and motorhomes. You can reach Bob at 978-461-2143 or via e-mail (zagami@tiac.net).

 

This must be every sales manager and owners dream: automating your sales force! If you could automate the sales process you can write more business - right? Now we are not talking about making robots out of human beings. People still buy from people, so we have to find ways to make our sales representatives more productive. Your efforts to make sales reps more productive will usually be centered in three key areas:

Improved selling skills
Improved product knowledge
More time with prospects and customers


   We are talking about automating some of the things sales people do so that it will free up more time to concentrate and develop proficiencies in these critical areas.

Unfortunately, we tend to talk more about this aspect of business rather than do something about it. Let's take a look at some Internet Web Sites ..... Oh no, there's that "Internet" word again. Yes, we are talking about computers and the Internet again, and we will continue talking about it because it is going to become a major part of your business operations. For some of you, it already has and you are reaping the benefits of the technology with improved customer service and higher sales numbers.

Here's a site that you can have a lot of fun with while you learn more about sales force automation, customer service, the Internet, and your prospects. You can locate this site at http://www.pentech.net/. You can spend all night on this site if you have the time.

Pentech Corporation in Atlanta, GA created this site. Here you will find information that will help you automate your business, with specific emphasis on automating sales, customer service and Internet operations. In their own words, the site will:

Educate you on the process of enterprise automation.
Show you how to easily use the Internet in your sales operation.
Help you find information on the Web about enterprise automation.
Make you aware of the services provided by Pentech.
Give you an easy way to evaluate sales automation tools online, and
Let you know about upcoming seminars of interest.

The site also has an interactive Psycho Selling Skills page that will allow you to psychoanalyze your prospects to really get to know how to successfully communicate with them.

You can also sign up for online newsletter that you can receive via e-mail each month.

Have you seen the site voted the #1 sales web site by Entrepreneur Magazine? It's http://www.salesdoctors.com/  This site changes weekly and provides a wealth of exciting information about selling. I agree with the magazine, this is a very popular site among sales professionals in all careers. The stories and resources that can be found here are applicable to excellent selling and customer service skills.

A quick look at the current online issue shows the following stories:

Everyone Sells the Same Thing - Consultant Art Sobczak writes about the similarities of products or services and states something we have talked about in many of our articles in this series: "Regardless of the type of physical product or intangible service you provide, everyone's customer buys only one thing, and that's the end result of having or using that product or service."

Creative Offers Multiply Profits - Marketing and communications expert Marcia Yudkin writes about packaging special offers to get the sale.

The site also has a helpful sales and marketing resource directory of other online sites.

Sales and Marketing Management magazine has a newly revised web site that will keep you busy for several hours some night. The same people who bring you the magazine with the same title host the site. You can find them at http://www.salesandmarketing.com/.

This excellent reference site includes information from the magazine, a software directory of sales and marketing products, and hot links to other sites. The Hot Links section is one of the best you will find for sales and marketing professionals. Within the Hot Links section you will find sub-sections on Associa-tions, Business Tools, Director-ies and Databases, Financial News and Services, Business Information and News, Manage-ment, Sales and Marketing, Shipping, Small Business, and University Sales Programs.

One of my favorite spots in cyberspace is http://www.amazon.com/, the online bookstore where you can find just about anything that was ever printed. Keyword search capabilities allow you to quickly find books on various topics, order them online, and have them sitting in your mailbox a few days later. Reading has never been easier!

We all hope that our sales people are self-motivated. We also hope that everyone that visits your dealership buys on the first visit. Neither one happens with great frequency. Motivation can be taught, and it's unfortunate that we don't include it in high school and college curriculums. People can improve themselves and some only need a slight nudge in the right direction or an introduction to self-help materials to get them on their way. I was very fortunate early in my selling career to have someone introduce me to the programs offered by Success Motivation® International, Inc. of Waco, Texas. A visit to their web site at http://www.success-motivation.com/ will introduce you to several unique programs designed for business owners, sales managers and sales representatives.

Paul J. Meyer, the founder of SMI, is best known for his world famous quote: "Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon...must inevitably come to pass!" If you don't believe that now, you will after listening to a few of his internationally famous motivational programs.

A truly dynamic speaker is never forgotten. A few years ago one of our suppliers featured Dr. Tony Alessandra at their national sales meeting. Tony is a marketing strategist and applied behavioral scientist and a leading authority on bottom-line marketing tactics and building business relationships for life. His web site, located at http://www.alessandra.com, is an excellent place to purchase one of his thirteen books or schedule him as the keynote speaker for your next sales meeting.

For a futuristic look at where marketing is headed, you will want to check out http://www.m1to1.com/, where you will be introduced to Don Peppers and Martha Rogers who pioneered the field of 1to1 marketing in their best-seller, the One to One Future. One-to-One is a strategy for improving the fundamental economics of your business by treating different customers differently.

As you can see, the web becomes an unlimited resource for the latest technology and techniques to keep your sales professionals at the top of their game ... and the top of the sales charts.

We have written about consultative selling skills in several of our Salesmanship articles. Here's a site that actually shows you what it is all about, http://www.salestoolz.com/. The site will show you how to make the switch from traditional "features and benefits" selling to selling the customer on the profit-building value of your product or service. Consultative selling strategies allow you to reduce the sales cycle, increase closing rates, and increase your margins -- a sales manager's dream come true.

Another great sales site with a varied selection of magazines, books, audiotapes, videotapes and posters is the Selling Power Magazine web site; http://www.sellingpower.com/. I think you'll enjoy the creative posters that could find a home somewhere close to the sales team. They have five thought provoking posters available as a set, or individually. Two of my favorites are "Your Price is too High" and "I Have to Think it Over" - sound familiar? The other three in the set are; Nothing happens until somebody sells something, Selling Signals and The Funnel Strategy - an ideal teaching tool to shorten sales cycles, capture better prospects and close more sales.

Finally, let us end with an incredible resource site; http://www.saleslinks.com/. The providers of this sight claim to have spent over 800 hours researching and classifying the most useful sales and selling sites on the web. To make it even easier, they have organized them by category so you can find what you need quickly and easily, without struggling with search engines and directories. They have 300-plus sales links on this site alone.

The Internet continues to provide knowledge and information beyond what we have ever had available to us as professional sales and marketing people. This is pure power that can and should be used to improve your selling skills, improve your product knowledge, spend more time with prospects and customers -- and sell more!

Good luck and good selling.

RVN

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